polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Oscar Moment: A City in Dance

by Min Li Chan

In riveting scenes from Wim Wenders's 2012 Oscar-nominated 3-D dance film, "Pina," dancers for the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch move to the themes of love, humor and longing. They are transported from the stage and into the midst of city life in the German city of Wuppertal. On the street median, underneath the tracks, in the park, or in the industrial outskirts of the city, the drama of life is expressed in the language of dance. These city scenes provide a stunning, often unlikely backdrop for dance theatrics, perhaps paying homage to the city that this illustrious dance company and its iconic choreographer call home.

"Pina" highlights Wuppertal's unconventional mix of land use. Many scenes are set in lush greenery — no surprise, given that green space occupies two-thirds of the municipal area. The city is known for its woods, parks and slopes, which are within a 10-minute trek from any part of the city. At the same time, the audience catches glimpses of Wuppertal's industrial lineage and bustling downtown, connected by the Wuppertal Schwebebahn, a suspension railway. The 3-D effects in the film bring a certain physicality to the space, but also provide an unprecedented view "inside" the dance — you can see within the choreography rather than watching a faraway stage.

Credits: Photos from the "Pina" website.

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